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FitBit Flex

The FitBit

     In a previous post I talked about how I have Meniere’s Disease, which is, in short a disease that is all about the world spinning, drop attacks, and feeling unwell. This brought forth some sort of epiphany that my body was under attack by a disease and my defenses (health) weren’t up to par. I’m 5’2’ish’, 5’3’’ hanging upside down and used to clock in at a big ole 210lbs. Just edging out a size 20 jeans, and they were tight. My smallest was when I was 17ish, 115lbs and I hated how I felt in clothes and my own skin, my most comfortable was 140 in size 12s. I was in a size 10 when I was at 115lb. I’ve got hips, so my jeans were and are always on the bigger size, and I’m short! About a year ago, I started making very small changes to my diet and making excuses not to go to the gym. I’m in school, I drive 10 hrs a week, I have to work, etc. I dropped to 185lbs in the last year in just changing what I eat, or rather, how much I eat. Comfy in a size 18, roomy even.

Then comes the spinning of the world – Meniere’s and that was it, no more excuses. I had to make a change. Gym time. I needed some motivation, come on, I’m 40! I am set in my ways! I am a writer. I sit at a computer screen and bang out stories like a mad machine gun on Red Bull and Rum. I am not the physical girl, I am the girl who is at a computer and making word magic.

A very smart teacher of mine, Aaron T once told me just move, more time you move and are off the couch you’re one step ahead of the guy/girl who isn’t. That’s hard. I spend 8 hrs a day on my feet for work. And the writer in me wants to go home and see what mischief I can get characters into.

I wanted something I could clock in my walking, my work, my food, my steps, my gym time. Off to google I went! I read up on several trackers, read reviews, what other apps worked w/each, and settled on the FitBit Flex (I wanted the Force but due to a recall, that wasn’t happening). I put it on my wish list and low and behold, the price dropped to a nice $83.88 free shipping as I’m a prime member. I didn’t care what color, I just wanted that thing. I’m a tech girl, face it, most of us are.

Fitbit-Flex

I received the slate/blue FitBit, it comes with a doggle (That goes into your computer) and a charger for your computer, but if you’re smart you’ll go to the sort and get a USB Charger and simply leave it and plug it when you need.

Two taps on the FibBit light up the small LED lights, each light is 2K steps. The clasp can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, you are golden. There are also several places to get different colored bands and extra clips and even a FitBelt to keep the FitBit on your wrist (some people have a habit of losing them it seems.) The FitBit vibrates when you reach your 10,000 steps (you can edit how many steps you wish to be your goal). You can also set alarms and it will buzz you awake. Which, I thought would never wake me, but, guess what, it does!

The tracking screen on your phone (if you pick to go that route) is great.  Steps, Calories, Miles, etc. 

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One of the lovely things about MD (Meniere’s) is that if you don’t sleep, you’re going to egg on an attack. And, I will admit, I am the worst sleeper ever. So when reading that the Fit tracked sleep – well, that really did cinch the deal for me! Come to find out, I’ve been having very small MD attacks in my sleep for a very long time, which is what caused me to be restless. Now I could track my sleep. I’ve been able to adjust my meds (with my FNP) to get a better restful sleep. I’ve never lacked on energy! Ask anyone who knows me, but I used to run on 5hrs of sleep a night, now I get a good average of 7 or more.

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I used the FitBit program exclusively for about 2 weeks, then paired it with MyFitnessPal, there is a food scanner and the exercises are more precise on the MFP. It logs in and saves your breakfast, lunch and supper, also snacks, etc.  The synching of the two was very easy and bam, they are talking to each other. The beauty of the FB is you tell it you want to lose, oh, 2lbs a week. It figures out how many calories you need to eat. Where to fall and if you put in a long hard day of work, your caloric intake goes up. Starving yourself is never good.

With MD I need to cut down on my sodium, over the course of a week I can see where I had to much sodium, what foods has more, how I can trim that down. I need extra potassium, I can do the same there. Building my menu around my life and how I feel instead of being stuck in the same repeating motions of “oh I have to eat that again?” to keep the calories and sodium down.

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Simply said, I LOVE IT! It’s a motivator. Oh, let me take the stairs. I’m missing 400 steps or 1 mile, maybe I’ll take the dog for a short walk, raining outside, great, 5 minutes on the treadmill, that 5 mins turns into me doing a few jumping jacks and some yoga. At the gym, and I only have 300 active minutes. Lets hit the treadmill for a brisk walk of 4mph. How about some leg presses? Lat pull downs. Bicep curls. Whatever it is, I want that screen green. I want 300 mins of active minutes.

I am down to 178lbs, (but really, I could care less, I am doing this to get healthy to combat the effects of MD) and on my good days I feel great. Beyond great, I feel better. I find that when I have an attack, I’m not railroaded into bed for two days. I can at least function around the house, if not struggle to get to work. I will have bad days. If I can’t drive I can’t work. If I can’t walk to the bathroom without trailing my fingers along the wall, I am not okay. If when I stand still the room is swaying. I am not okay to take care of patients.

I was having daily attacks about 2 months ago. Now, every two weeks or so. I find on my days of inactivity, the next day I don’t feel as well and the room decides to be a Gravitoron and whirl me around.

Of course, the FitBit didn’t do all of this, I did. I go to the gym and I do balance exercises. I go to the gym and hit the treadmill (and even run for ½ a mile). I go to the gym and do the chest press machine (I started at 20lbs and am up to 50lb). I could barely stand on one leg 2 months ago, now I can do a tree pose for almost a minute on each leg. I do those things, but having that screen on the FitBit app go all green (I’m more about active minutes and not steps) and that I’m under calories, makes me feel as if I am doing something to combat this disease and to take things into control.

Is the FitBit perfect? No, hardly. It is what YOU do with it that makes it worthy of your time and effort. Do I recommend the FitBit Flex? I sure do. Will it make you do things? No, that comes from within, what it will do is give you feedback. And information.  For 90 bucks, to be honest, you’ve little to lose and a lot to gain. Information is key.

Now, get out there and MOVE!

As The World Spins – Meniere’s Disease

As The World Spins – Meniere’s Disease

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All my life I’ve never had balance. As time went on, I just accepted that standing on one leg wasn’t every going to be something I was going do to. I’d do yoga and I best have something to put my fingertips on, or topple over I did. I’ve sprained ankles multiple times and loss of balance wasn’t something new. 18 months ago or so, I noticed that when I walk, I hardly ever swung my arms. I made nothing of if, who remembers how they walk? An interesting side note here, as part of my PTA program of study, we did gait analysis, in reading up on MD in later months, many MD patients hold their arms close to their body and have less swing than folks with a normal gait.

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While away in Sept/October for clinical in Millinocket, Maine, I was teaching a patient how to balance on one leg and could hardly do it myself. This is about the time I noticed the odd on again off again hearing loss. It was annoying. I was listening to a TV show and would swap out earbuds to realize that I could hear nothing out of my right ear, the earbuds were fine, my ears were not. Again, I wrote it off, my dad is deaf, why not me?

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This intermittent hearing loss continued and I ignored it. I’m in health care, we ARE the worst of patients and I had no insurance. I was not paying hundreds of dollars to figure out why I was going deaf.

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Then, in January, in the middle of the night, I felt as if the whole room, dream and all, was on a roller coaster and I threw myself out of bed and scrambled to the bathroom, promptly vomiting. My head was pounding and I attributed this to the migraines that I would sometimes get. Two days of rest and I was fine. Again, sweep it under the rug.

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This dizziness and full-headed feeling, the hearing loss only amped up from there, getting so bad at times that I could barely hear my charge nurse speaking to me “Sorry I’m deaf today” was my new mantra. By the end of February, I felt as if I were walking on the deck of a ship in the middle of the perfect storm.

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Yet, when I drove, I was fine. Get out of the car and hello, back to Pirate Jack’s Black Pearl. Our Obama Care insurance kicked in March 1st and I made an appointment. I perplexed Jen, my FNP. We tried a few things, mainly Meclizine, and some of that oddness went away. The hearing loss, not so much. But I wasn’t on the Black Pearl 24/7 and started, in small little increments, feeling like the Jan of old.

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A visit to the ENT and a confirmation of what I had thought it was, Meniere’s Disease. MD. A disease that is different for everyone, with of course, the standard symptoms, which, as standard as they are, still vary from patient to patient. After an MRI to make sure I didn’t have a tumor, we added a light diuretic to my med regime and I am doing my own balance and strength program, I am slowly learning to live with what could be a debilitating disease.

 

It is, however, a terrifying thing to know that someday I will be deaf in at least my right ear, if not both. That drop attacks could force me to stop doing the job I love. (I recently graduated as a PT assistant). That the underlying vertigo might come back and driving, walking the dog, and being productive might be a thing of the past.

People at work don’t understand that I can be 100% on Saturday and in the middle of the night my world turns into a tapestry of chaos where the world no long sits still, that I am on the equator of the world and we are going at 1000 revolutions a minute. That I feel as if I’ve been run over by an elephant on Sunday and my sole function that day is to eat and sleep and survive until the next and hope that Monday is better.

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Every single soul with MD has unique symptoms. I have one that I’ve not heard of anyone mentioning on the message boards as of yet. Heat. In doing C.N.A. work I give whirlpools, the room can get up to 90-100 degrees of wet, sticky heat. But my residents are wet and naked, it needs to be warm. Slowly, each day that I do whirlpools, I feel the heaviness in my head begin and the dizziness start to creep into me. Whirlpool days are my FAVE day of the week. It’s the day I can pamper and I make it a spa day for my residents, with music and great smelling soap and lotions. But each time I do WP’s, I feel that anxiety ebbing into me, will I have a drop attack? Will I have a panic attack? I was doing WP’s twice a week, but this was bringing on attacks and forcing me to call out. If I can’t drive to work, that means I’m not well enough for work. How do we put into words that each time we push our bodies its making the attacks worse? Of no fault of the person doing my scheduling, but even if one WP is on Monday and the other on Thursday, the in between time isn’t a recovery period. I will never recover from MD, it is like MS or Parkinson’s or Muscular Dystrophy. I have it. I must make adjustments to deal with it, adjust how I work, how I move, how much I eat and drink. Sometimes this falls on deaf ears (pun intended) – they, people w/o MD, don’t “get it”. It is not a complaint.  A fact of life. 

Each day is a new little battle. I have found that a balance, cardio and strength routine at the gym is helping. I feel as though my recovery time after an attack is shorter and that my balance is far better. I know that exercise isn’t for everyone, but for me, it seems to help with the recovery time, not the attacks. As time goes on, I am sure I will learn more about this disease and how I cope with it and put a positive spin on a disease that keeps on spinning.

Jan Marie

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